Seeking permission from copyright owners
Consent is needed to do anything that only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do (e.g. reproduce the work) unless it is a situation that falls under exceptions to copyright infringement, set out later in this page. Infringement occurs when one has not obtained consent from the copyright owner to do something that only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do. For example, a person infringes copyright if he photocopies an article without the consent of the copyright owner.
Sometimes, consent is indicated in the terms of permitted use, e.g. "for Private Use Only". Otherwise, one should seek consent. Merely acknowledging the source when one uses the work is insufficient.
To obtain consent from copyright owners, one may:
A collective management organisation is an organisation that administers the rights of a group of copyright owners. It can grant consent for use of the works of its members under specific conditions. For more information on how to obtain a licence from a collective management organisation in Singapore, please refer to the page on Licences from Collective Management Organisations.
Not all IP Associations are collective management organisations (that administer licences). The following are IP Associations that represent the interests of copyright owners. Generally they are non-profit, non-government bodies engaging in the promotional, educational and trade-related activities on behalf of their members:
For more details, please refer to Industry IP Groups.
Exceptions to copyright infringement
The Copyright Act provides for certain exceptions to copyright infringement. If you fall within the following situations, you may use copyrighted works without seeking permission from the copyright owner.
Under the provisions of the Copyright Act, copying the whole or a part of a copyright work is permissible as long as it is a 'fair dealing'. Factors that will be taken into account in deciding whether such copying is a fair dealing include the following:
Where the copying is for the specific purposes of research or study, it shall be taken to be a fair dealing as long as the copying limits are observed. For a published work of at least 10 pages, the copying limits are up to 10% of the number of pages or one chapter, whichever is the greater.
In other cases, fair dealings for the purposes of criticism, review or reporting current events would not constitute copyright infringement. In the case of criticism or review and the reporting of current events in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, a sufficient acknowledgment of the work is required.
It is not an infringement if a person:
Special Provisions for Educational Institutions
There are special provisions in the Copyright Act that allow certain educational institutions to make copies of or to communicate a copyright work within limits for educational purposes.
In the case of a published edition of a literary, dramatic or musical work, there is a presumption of non-infringement if the amount taken falls within the following limits (whichever is applicable) :
There are however certain record-keeping requirements imposed on the schools and the need to pay equitable remuneration to the copyright owners upon their request.
Copyright and the Internet
Copyright materials sent over the Internet or stored on web servers are treated in the same manner as copyright material in other media. The fact that they are made available on the Internet does not constitute a waiver of copyright nor does it carry any implied licence for anyone to download or reproduce the material without the permission of the copyright owner.
It is good practice for all copyright owners to maintain documentary evidence of the date of creation of the work, and display a notice of copyright on the material posted on the Internet. The documentary evidence will facilitate proof of copyright should there be a need to enforce the copyright against a third party. Please refer to the symbol © and proving originality of work.
Generally, a webpage is considered subject matter protectable by copyright. The individual works (e.g. original music, original text) within a webpage can also be separately protected by copyright.
If you wish to hyperlink to a website, generally, it is good practice to check the terms and conditions of use of the website and the terms and conditions of use of the works.
Downloading materials from the Internet
The Copyright Act provides a specific limited exception for the act of browsing (viewing, listening or utilising) copyright materials made available on the Internet, where a transient and incidental electronic copy of the copyright material is made.
Generally, forwarding an email that contains copyright material without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement because copying is involved.
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